On Wednesday, a row surrounding India’s national language erupted on Twitter, after Hindi actor Ajay Devgn said Hindi “was, is and always will be our mother tongue and national language,” in response to a statement made by actor Kichcha Sudeepa.
Recently, Kannada actor Sudeepa, spoke about pan-Indian films at the film launch of R: The Deadliest Gangster Ever. “It is being said that a pan-Indian film was made in Kannada. I’d like to make a small correction. Because Hindi is no more the national language. They (Hindi industry) are doing pan-Indian films, by dubbing them in Telugu and Tamil. Today, we just make films that reach everywhere,” he added.
It may be noted that KGF: Chapter 2 was called a pan-Indian film for catering to all regions across the country and subsequently had groundbreaking records at the box office.
Following this, Devgn took to Twitter and wrote a counter-statement in Hindi. Questioning Sudeepa, he said, “If Hindi was not our national language, then why do you dub and release the films in your mother tongue films, in Hindi?” He went on to claim that Hindi was, is and always will be the mother tongue and national language.
Devgn was called out by the public as well as many prominent people on Twitter. Siddaramaiah, Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, said, “Hindi was never and will never be our national language. It is the duty of every Indian to respect the linguistic diversity of our country. Each language has its own rich history for its people to be proud of. I am proud to be a Kannadiga!!”
Criticising Devgn’s remarks, actor Divya Spandana wrote that his “ignorance is baffling” and noted that films like KGF, Pushpa and RRR have done so well in the Hindi belt as “art has no language barrier.”
Several others corrected Devgn saying that films are dubbed in Hindi and other languages simply because of the market and not because Hindi is the “national language.” The actor was also asked to “read the constitution or get his tweets reviewed for accuracy.”
Another Twitter user made an ironic analysis that Devgn’s career is still relevant because of Drishyam, a remake from Malayalam cinema, Singham from the Tamil film franchise, and starring in RRR and added that the actor is currently working on the remake of the Tamil film Kaithi.
Meanwhile, filmmaker Ram Gopal wrote that it is an “undeniable ground truth that the stars from the north are insecure and jealous of the stars down south because a Kannada film KGF Chapter 2, dubbed in so many languages, had a 50 crore opening day”.
Extending support to Sudeepa, HD Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of Karnataka, put out a long thread of tweets. In one of them, he said that like Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi, Hindi is also one of the languages. “India is a garden of several languages. Land of multi-cultures. Let there be no attempts to disrupt this.”
In response to Devgn’s tweet, Sudeepa stated that the context in which he said that line was entirely different. He further stated that he did not make that statement “to hurt, provoke or start any debate”.
Pointing out that he understood Devgn’s text written in Hindi, the Kannada actor said that he loves and respects Hindi, and every language in the country.
Following which, Devgn wrote that Sudeepa remains his friend and thanked him for clearing up the misunderstanding, in an attempt to put an end to the conflict. “I’ve always thought of the film industry as one. We respect all languages and we expect everyone to respect our language, as well. Perhaps, something was lost in translation,” he added.
Concluding the row, Sudeepa said, “translations and interpretations are perspectives” and noted that it would have been a happy moment if he had received a tweet from Devgn, for a creative purpose.
The row on Hindi imposition or the language being referred to as the country’s national language is not new. South Indian states have constantly been voicing against the agenda. In the recent past, Union Minister Amit Shah said that people from different states should communicate with each other in Hindi and not English. He stated that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English.
Many including AR Rahman criticised Shah’s statement. Responding to this, Rahman had said, “Tamil is the connecting language.” He also shared an illustration of ‘Thamizhanangu’ or “Goddess Tamil”, via social media. Actor Prakash Raj also said, “Don’t try to break homes Mr Home Minister.” He also urged to stop the imposition of Hindi.